The U.S. and South Korea are about to ‘go to war with North Korea’ in a series of military drills next month.
Over 300,000 troops will take part in a joint military exercise in March following nuclear and missile tests by the North, the Daily Mail reports.
The U.S. are sending four times as many troops as originally planned for the parallel ‘Key Resolve’ and ‘Foal Eagle’ exercises set to start in two weeks time.
Both the U.S. and their ally South Korea regularly stage joint military exercises but this is the first time it will stage a ‘pre-emptive strike’ on North Korea.
A senior defence official in Seoul spoke to the Korea Herald about the exercise.
This year’s operations will involve recovering key facilities that are located deep within North Korea, all the way near its northern borders. The scenario will include the special operations forces being deployed to border areas adjacent to China and Russia.
The U.S. are sending 15,000 troops to the annual exercise, up from 3,700 last year. Meanwhile, South Korea will commit some 290,000 personnel, including special forces, more than double its usual deployment for the annual drills, The Telegraph reports.
The computer simulated ‘Key Resolve’, which ran for ten days last year, usually kicks off simultaneously with a field exercise known as ‘Foal Eagle’, another joint military drill that lasts around 50 days.
This year’s Foal Eagle is expected to be the largest ever, and has attracted key U.S. strategic assets such as an airforce combat brigade, marines, a naval fleet led by an aircraft carrier and nuclear-powered submarines.
North Korea usually becomes more hostile around the time of the joint U.S-South Korea military exercises and, last year, the country’s leader Kim Jong-Un urged his army to prepare for war with the United States and its allies, before firing two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea at the start of the exercises.
The exercises begin only a month after North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test despite being condemned internationally, and followed it up with a long-range rocket launch.
Meanwhile, Washington and Seoul have postponed talks on deploying an advanced missile defence system opposed by Beijing, South Korea’s defence ministry said Tuesday.
The allies had been prepared to sign an agreement to set up a joint working group to look into the roll-out of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence System (THAAD) against North Korea’s growing missile threat. The THAAD system fires anti-ballistic missiles into the sky to smash into enemy missiles either inside or outside the Earth’s atmosphere during their final flight phase.
It is expected that official talks on THAAD will begin again next week, once the two sides set up a joint working group.